How Much Do NBA Coaches Make? (Average & Highest)

NBA coaches play a significant role in maximizing their team’s talents that hopefully convert to regular season wins leading to the playoffs and eventually to an NBA championship.

However, coaches can only do so much to teach their players and improve the team’s morale, especially if they earn much less than the average NBA player.

So, how much does an NBA coach make per year?

According to sources, NBA head coaches earn a salary of $2 to 4 million per year, depending on various factors like prior coaching experience. Currently, the highest-paid head coach is Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, with an $11 million per year salary.

We’re sure you’re curious about the salary of other coaches which is what this post is about.

What’s the Average Salary of an NBA coach?

A basketball with dollar bills

Similar to the NBA Players, NBA coaching is also an exclusive club since only thirty slots are filled as quickly as they open.

However, unlike NBA players whose NBA contracts are publicly available and are dictated by the salary cap, the NBA coaching staff’s salaries are not as readily accessible, so it is harder to identify. The good thing is there is no limit on how much teams can pay their coaches.

According to league sources, the average salary of NBA coaches is hovering between $2 to 4 million annually. Coaching contracts can also include bonuses depending on their season and post-season performance.

One similarity to NBA Players is that coaches are also not secured with their position since many firings happen during the season or in the off-season if a team does not perform as expected.

Below are the current salaries of NBA head coaches. Please note that coaches’ contracts are not publicly available and are primarily from reliable personalities and websites.

Coach/TeamAnnual SalaryContractCoaching Experience
1. Nate McMillan
(Atlanta Hawks)
Undisclosed4 years18 Seasons
2. Ime Udoka
(Boston Celtics)
Undisclosed 1 Season
3. Steve Nash
(Brooklyn Nets)
$8,700,0004 years2 Seasons
4. Kenny Atkinson
(Charlotte Hornets)
Undisclosed4 years3 Seasons
5. Billy Donovan
(Chicago Bulls)
$6,000,0004 years7 Seasons
6. J.B. Bickerstaff
(Cleveland Cavaliers)
Undisclosed5 years6 Seasons
7. Jason Kidd
(Dallas Mavericks)
$7,000,000 6 Seasons
8. Michael Malone
(Denver Nuggets)
Undisclosed 9 Seasons
9. Dwane Casey
(Detroit Pistons)
$7,000,0005 years13 Seasons
10. Steve Kerr
(Golden State Warriors)
$9,500,000 8 Seasons
11. Stephen Silas
(Houston Rockets)
Undisclosed 2 Seasons
12. Rick Carlisle
(Indiana Pacers)
$7,250,0004 years20 Seasons
13. Tyronn Lue
(Los Angeles Clippers)
$7,000,0005 years6 Seasons
14. Darvin Ham
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Undisclosed4 yearsFirst Head Coaching Job
15. Taylor Jenkins
(Memphis Grizzlies)
$2,500,000 3 Seasons
16. Erik Spoelstra
(Miami Heat)
$8,500,000 14 Seasons
17. Mike Budenholzer
(Milwaukee Bucks)
Undisclosed3 years (extension)9 Seasons
18. Chris Finch
(Minnesota Timberwolves)
UndisclosedMultiyear Extension2 Seasons
19. Willie Green
(New Orleans Pelicans)
Undisclosed 1 Season
20. Tom Thibodeau
(New York Knicks)
Undisclosed5 years10 Seasons
21. Mark Daigneault
(Oklahoma City Thunder)
Undisclosed 2 Seasons
22. Jamahl Mosley
(Orlando Magic)
Undisclosed4 years1 Season
23. Doc Rivers
(Philadelphia 76ers)
$8,000,0005 years23 Seasons
24. Monty Williams
(Phoenix Suns)
$2,700,0005 years8 Seasons
25. Chauncey Billups
(Portland Trail Blazers)
Undisclosed5 years1 Season
26. Mike Brown
(Sacramento Kings)
Undisclosed4 years9 Seasons
27. Gregg Popovich
(San Antonio Spurs)
$11,500,000 26 Seasons
28. Nick Nurse
(Toronto Raptors)
$8,000,0004 years4 Seasons
29. Vacant
(Utah Jazz)
30. Wes Unseld Jr.
(Washington Wizards)
Undisclosed4 years1 Season

Who are the highest-paid NBA coaches?

Below is the list of the current highest-paid NBA Coaches from the available data.

TeamAnnual SalaryCoaching Experience
1. Gregg Popovich
San Antonio Spurs
$11,500,00026 Seasons
2. Steve Kerr
Golden State Warriors
$9,500,0008 Seasons
3. Steve Nash
Brooklyn Nets
$8,700,0002 Seasons
4. Erik Spoelstra
Miami Heat
$8,500,00014 Seasons
5. Doc Rivers
Philadelphia 76ers
$8,000,00023 Seasons
5. Nick Nurse
Toronto Raptors
$8,000,0004 Seasons
7. Rick Carlisle
Indiana Pacers
$7,250,00020 Seasons
8. Jason Kidd
Dallas Mavericks
$7,000,0006 Seasons
8. Dwane Casey
Detroit Pistons
$7,000,00013 Seasons
8. Tyronn Lue
Los Angeles Clippers
$7,000,0006 Seasons

1. Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) – $11,500,000 per year

As of the 2021-22 NBA Season, it is reported that Gregg Popovich is the highest-paid NBA head coach. The 73-year-old coach has been with the San Antonio Spurs since 1996 and has five NBA championships. His coaching success has been partly due to the Spurs Big 3, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. He also led the development of Kawhi Leonard, which led to their last championship in 2014.

However, the Spurs are currently in a three-year playoff drought. They hadn’t won a playoff series since the 2016-17 Season when they were swept by the eventual champion, Golden State Warriors.

2. Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors) – $9,500,000 per year

The second-highest-paid NBA head coach is Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, with a reported annual salary of $9.5 million. His yearly salary had close to a 100% increase from his previous 5-year, $25 million contract after leading the Warriors to multiple NBA Championships in the past decade.

In Kerr’s head coaching career in the Warriors, he is fortunate to have multiple all-stars on his team, including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant. His latest coaching success was his 2021-22 Season, where the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics in six games.

3. Steve Nash (Brooklyn Nets) – $8,700,000 per year

Nash is a 2x NBA MVP and one of the greatest point guards of all time. His accolades as a player played a role in leading to his coaching duty. He is currently the Brooklyn Nets head coach and the third highest-paid coach in the NBA, with $8.7 million per year.

However, his first two seasons in Brooklyn were not as successful as one would hope since the furthest they reached was the Eastern Conference Semifinals in his first year. The following year, his team was swept by Boston Celtics, even with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the team.

4. Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat) – $8,500,000 per year

Spoelstra has been with the Miami Heat since 1997, serving as the assistant coach to Pat Riley, and has been the head coach since 2008. He is currently earning $8.5 million per year.

He led the Miami Heat Big 3 of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning two. After the Big 3 Era, the Heat had another spark in the post-season since the arrival of Jimmy Butler.

Tie-5. Doc Rivers (Philadelphia 76ers) – $8,000,000 per year

Doc Rivers is currently the second longest-tenured head coach in the NBA, next to Gregg Popovich, and the fifth highest-paid NBA coach. His coaching success peaked during the Boston Big 3 Era of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen when they won the 2008 NBA Championship against rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Since 2008, he had coached the Clippers with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the 76ers with Joel Embiid and James Harden. However, the furthest his teams ever reached was in the conference semifinals.

Tie-5. Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors) – $8,000,000 per year

Nick Nurse gained immediate coaching success when he guided the Raptors to the team’s first NBA championship in franchise history during his first year of coaching in 2019. His coaching prowess has been handsomely rewarded by his team when they offered him $8 million per year.

7. Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers) – $7,250,000 per year

In the 2021-22 Season, Rick Carlisle returned to Indiana after spending 13 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks – winning an NBA Championship in 2011 with Dirk Nowitzki against the Miami Heat. His current contract amounts to $7.25 million.

His coaching experience is expected to lead Indiana Pacers in the post-season after the team failed to win a playoff series since the 2013-14 Season.

Tie-8. Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) – $7,000,000

Kidd, like Nash, is one of the greatest point guards in NBA History, which led to his calling to the coaching arena. He took the reins to the Mavericks from Rick Carlisle, along with the responsibility to develop the young core centered around Luka Doncic. They made it to the Conference Finals in their first season together, losing them to the eventual champion, Golden State Warriors.

Tie-8. Dwane Casey (Detroit Pistons) – $7,000,000

Dwane Casey coached the Toronto Raptors for seven years during the DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry Era, where they annually underperformed in the playoffs after a great regular season. He was then fired in the 2017-18 Season, which, ironically, he won the Coach of the Year Award.

He was recruited by the Detroit Pistons for $7 million a year during the offseason but is still looking for their first playoff appearance.

Tie-8. Tyronn Lue (Los Angeles Clippers) – $7,000,000

Like Steve Kerr and Nick Nurse, Tyrone Lue also achieved immediate success in coaching after reaching the NBA Finals three straight years and winning the NBA championship in his first year with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

After four years with the Cavs, he was recruited by the Clippers for $7 million annually. He is now in charge of coaching the injury-ridden stars of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

What factors contribute to the salaries of NBA coaches

Black woman basketball coach

NBA Coaches are selected through various criteria that the team’s executives believe will help their team maximize their talents and hopefully win the most coveted NBA Title. However, choosing the right coach is difficult, especially with many qualified coaches who will be paid millions of dollars annually.

1. Coaching Experience

One of the most significant contributing factors for NBA coaches is their previous coaching experience. Experienced head coaches are more likely to be offered a higher salary than those with no coaching experience.

Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, and Rick Carlisle are three of the most-tenured NBA Coaches, which also translated into their higher-than-average salary.

2. Winning Percentage

Another factor for coaching salary, especially for experienced coaches, is their winnability. Coaches with a higher winning percentage during the regular season that leads to a playoff appearance can contribute to a higher salary.

3. Playoff Performance

Aside from regular-season performance, a coach should also lead his team deeper into the playoffs leading to the ultimate goal of winning a championship. Seven of the ten highest-paid coaches in the NBA have won at least one NBA Championship.

Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and Dwane Casey are the three highest-paid coaches with no championships under their belt yet.

4. Coaching Potential

Aside from coaching experience and winnability, NBA Teams sometimes hire coaches with no NBA experience who showed much promise and potential in that area. The best example is Brad Stevens, previously the head coach for Boston Celtics, before taking over the executive role. He was recruited after taking the Butler Bulldogs to two consecutive NCAA Finals Appearances.

However, since coaching potential is difficult to quantify, there are a lot of misses in hiring the right coach for the team.

5. Individual Success as an NBA Player

Aside from the other criteria mentioned, NBA Teams put a higher premium on players with a decorated NBA Career entering the coaching ranks, like Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, both superstar point guards in the NBA.

Former NBA Players are also more likely to reach the coaching position. More than a third of the current NBA coaches were also NBA Players. Some played a short NBA stint, while some played longer. Some learned coaching through their time on the bench.

How to Become an NBA Coach?

Becoming an NBA Coach is a long process. Some spend years doing video or scouting works before getting a promotion to an assistant coach. However, getting one slot out of the thirty NBA Coaching posts is incredibly difficult. Here are some factors to becoming an NBA Coach.

1. You should have at least a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree, while not required, increases your chances of starting your NBA coaching career. Some degrees specifically target coaching training and sports development that can help jumpstart your career.

2. You should have played collegiate or professional basketball

Becoming an NBA coach who never played in the NBA or any professional basketball league is uncommon. If you look at the resumes of the current NBA head coaches, 13 have played in the NBA, even if only as role players.

However, some never entered the NBA but played in the NCAA. Taylor Jenkins is the only current NBA head coach who never played basketball, at least at the collegiate level.

3. You should have prior coaching experience

Jumping straight from no coaching experience to becoming an NBA head coach is nearly impossible. Even the NBA coaches spent some time doing the minor work for their respective head coaches during their coaching journey.

NBA Coaches who were previously NBA Players

Here are the 13 NBA coaches who were former NBA Players. Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, while Doc Rivers and Chauncey Billups were former all-stars.

1. Atlanta HawksNate McMillan
2. Boston CelticsIme Udoka
3. Brooklyn NetsSteve Nash
4. Chicago BullsBilly Donovan
5. Dallas MavericksJason Kidd
6. Golden State WarriorsSteve Kerr
7. Indiana PacersRick Carlisle
8. Los Angeles ClippersTyronn Lue
9. Los Angeles LakersDarvin Ham
10. New Orleans PelicansWillie Green
11. Philadelphia 76ersDoc Rivers
12. Phoenix SunsMonty Williams
13. Portland Trail BlazersChauncey Billups

Other Coaches in an NBA Team

Coach with players in a timeout

Depending on the organization, NBA Teams can have more than ten coaches of different titles besides the head coach. There are also required coaches under the NBA Collective Bargaining, like the strength and conditioning coach. Here are some.

1. Assistant Coach

NBA Assistant Coaches are usually next in line for the head coaching position. However, the competition for the next head coaching job is fierce since there are multiple assistant coaches in an NBA Team. According to the NBA Rule Book, only a maximum of three assistant coaches can occupy the bench during a game.

Depending on their experience and past success, they can earn an annual salary of less than $50,000 to more than $1 million, which is relatively less than what head coaches earn.

2. Player Enhancement Coach

Like assistant coaches, player enhancement/development coaches continuously monitor players to improve their game and professional life on and outside the basketball court. They also break down videos and find areas for improvement. While it is not disclosed, player enhancement coaches are estimated to earn around $50,000 per year.

3. Strength and Conditioning Coach

According to the latest NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), an NBA Team must have at least one Strength and Conditioning Coach and designate one Head Strength and Conditioning Coach.

From an internal survey made by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the average salary of a Strength and Conditioning Coach is roughly around $80,000 per year.

However, some players take strength and conditioning seriously to increase their longevity and are willing to pay a premium for such service. LeBron James is a prime example. He is reported to pay $1.5 million per year to his personal strength and conditioning coach.


NBA Coaches can earn millions of dollars, but the competition for the head coaching job is challenging because the career ladder is high, and the opportunities are low – since there are only 30 NBA Teams.

But suppose someone checks the proper criteria like earning a bachelor’s degree, playing basketball professionally, and earning coaching experience. In that case, getting into the elite group of basketball coaches is possible.

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